Category Archives: Uncategorized

Transport in the time of the Coronavirus crisis: what we need to do NOW.

I’m aware that most of us have, if anything, more tasks than usual to complete at this difficult time. There is also a natural reticence about “being political” at a time when many of us will lose loved ones. I certainly don’t think that phenomena like reduced motor traffic and better air quality should be airily welcomed as “silver linings” to the cloud of Covid-19. However, I would argue that there are ways in which we need to become involved in developments, not just because of the immediacy of matters like the need to control speeding from all too many drivers taking advantage of reduced traffic, but because the car-dominated status quo may become even more entrenched as the crisis subsides if we don’t.

We have already seen carmakers allegedly trying to weaken controls on emissions at this time . On March 23rd Transport for London suspended all of its charging zones to assist emergency services and critical workers. In fact, as critics such as Councillor John Burke of Hackney Council pointed out, these could have been exempted with existing technology. The result would have been even more convenience for them, and no increased traffic stress risked for London.

I mention this last case because in a Twitter debate on this with the President of the Automobile Association, he told us to “set aside ideology” – while being, in my view, all too “ideological”. A classic defence of the political status quo is to argue that we shouldn’t “be political”. But transport is political – we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. Consider the current debate about actual (or exaggerated) levels of inappropriate use of parks, and the issue of police enforcing Government instructions. Compare that with reports that overstretched police officers may not be enforcing speeding   – by drivers who may well not be critical workers or making essential journeys – which has been normalised by all too many whose ideology claims that speeding is not a “real” crime.

In my view here are things that transport professionals and campaigners should be doing if they can find the time. It should be time well spent.

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“Who kills whom” and the measurement of danger.

In our Charter we give a commitment to: “Find new measures to define the level of danger on our roads. These would more accurately monitor the use of and threat to benign modes.” This post is part of our work at doing that – hopefully it will contribute to debate. It is based on a document by PACTS given to the Transport Committee Active Travel enquiry in December 2018.

In previous posts and discussions, we have spent a lot of time talking about the need to have measures and targets for benign transport modes expressed with a measure of exposure – e.g. casualty rates per distance, or time, or number of trips travelled. Examples are here  and here . In this post we move on to look at the question of: Who Kills/Hurts/Endangers Whom?

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The Alliston case: after the verdict

The previous post  has had more views than any other in our history. We have received significant support for its content in comments and on Twitter, and also – as one must expect in the age of social media – abuse and insult. Although readers will judge for themselves, it is striking how the insults have been based on a lack of evidence and – above all – misreading of what the piece was about.

So, to repudiate the insults, let’s clarify what the piece was – and more importantly was not – about. We can then move on to an assessment of where we are now after an extraordinary week.

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SUPPORTING SAFE DRIVING INTO OLD AGE: A dreadful report

For anybody who needs convincing that the official “road safety” establishment is part of the problem of danger on the roads, look no further than SUPPORTING SAFE DRIVING INTO OLD AGE: A National Older Driver Strategy  . Allegedly addressing the problems of older drivers, this report – as so much of official “road safety” does routinely – accommodates them to the detriment of their actual or potential victims. Continue reading